You can change someone’s world with an act of kindness. Actually, it would be better to say you can change THE world with your kindness. Too often we undervalue the impact that our actions have on the world.
The power of being kind should not be underestimated.
Imagine there’s a sales associate working in a boutique. Every customer that enters is greeted with a smile and made to feel important. The sales associate remembers something that the customer told them in the past: some detail about their job, their family, their friends or maybe a hobby. Maybe the sales associate simply meets their needs with a kind smile. The customer will leave the boutique in a better mood. However, if the person that enters is treated in a distracted way or with little care, he or she could leave the store angry or in a bad mood, and this will cloud their next interactions.
So, let’s say we have a kind sales associate that meets 100 people in a day. If they all leave the store happier than when they went in, the world has become a better place. This number is not insignificant and it’s even better than that because those 100 people will meet friends, family, and colleagues after leaving the boutique. If they’re in a good mood their interactions with those they meet will be more positive. If everybody has a social relationship with 150 people (Dunbar’s number*) this sales associate is one degree removed from 15,000 people and two degrees removed from over 2 million.
We are all connected and our actions have an impact on the world.
This applies to all areas of life though. There is an intrinsic joy in helping others. There is also what behavioural psychologist Robert Cialdini calls the Law of Reciprocity in his best-selling book Influence. Whatever you put into the world comes back to you. If you treat someone well then, that person will want to reciprocate. I’m sure most of us have had the experience that someone has bought us a gift that we weren’t expecting, and we feel the need to repay this kindness by making sure we buy a gift for them at the next opportunity. So, there are intrinsic and external motivations for treating people nicely but how does kindness effect business? The success of your career will be largely defined by your relationships with other people and from a business point of view, it’s fundamentally important that your customers are treated well.
You CAN change the world with your kindness. You can also make your business more successful. The luxury fashion industry is no exception.
In the luxury fashion industry, brand image is essential to success. As Warren Buffet said, “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business”. The quality of the products and the store design is clearly important, but you can argue that even more critical is the treatment of the customers when they enter the store. Luxury fashion brands spend millions on marketing just to get the customers into the store. Then it’s up to the sales staff to make the experience memorable and irrespective of whether a sale is made or not, leave the customer with an even stronger image of the brand and the desire to come back.
A brand is just another name for the way that a company is perceived by those who experience it.
Brands often underestimate this more emotional element in customer service. Deloitte states that studies show that we primarily rate brands based on personal feelings and experiences—not information. And when a positive emotional connection is created with a brand, 92% of us are more likely to stay loyal to brand, 88% are more likely to spend more, and 91% are willing to advocate on behalf of the brand (1). For many years, the luxury fashion industry resisted the call to e-commerce. I was working for Gucci in 2001 when e-commerce was launched. However, fifteen years later in 2016 online sales in the luxury industry were still only around 10% of total sales according to the Boston Consultancy Group. It was still considered to be anti-luxury. Even with the recent rise of online sales in the industry, driven by the pandemic and travel restrictions, pure e-commerce accounts for only 22% of total luxury sales showing us that almost 80% of clients still want the in-store experience (2). However, this fundamentally means the human interaction that comes with it. As stated by the Business of Fashion: “the digital tools and touchpoints that are becoming part of the luxury customer experience, ranging from apps to online channels to virtual reality, are no substitute for personal, face-to-face service in physical stores” (3)
Kindness can really make a difference.
This starts with kindness and kindness in customer service can be as simple as offering a genuine smile, listening carefully, and showing a real interest in the customer. As mentioned above, first and foremost, this is the right way to treat people. Secondly, this makes business sense as it builds brand loyalty.
96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand (4)
A poorly customer on the other hand will simply abandon the brand.
“89% of consumers have switched to doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience” (4)
Kindness is therefore fundamental for success in the luxury industry. However, it’s necessary in every walk of life and in every activity. You never know what somebody else is going through. Offer a smile. Be polite. Offer a helping hand. Take an interest. You can change their day; you can change their life and you can change the world for the better. So, ask yourself, what act of kindness can YOU do today to make the world a better place?
* ‘Dunbar’s number’ is the idea proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar that there is a cognitive limit on human groups of about 150 individuals.
I’m a Fashion & Luxury industry professional that has held many different roles in this sector over the last 20 years in both Italy and the UK.
I’m a passionate about the Fashion & Luxury industry, especially sharing his knowledge and experience with colleagues, other industry professionals while also helping students who are trying to begin a career in the field through lecturing and personal advice.
After moving to Italy from the UK, I worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Milan before joining the Gucci Group in Florence. I began his career there an Internal Auditor working on such companies as: Gucci, Bottega Veneta, YSL, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.
I currently live in Milan and works as a CFO and HR Manager for a production division of the Hermès Group in Italy.
I’ve an Honours Degree from Nottingham Trent University Business School in the UK.